The sixth annual Champions Hockey League Draw took place today at Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava, Slovakia, where the 32 teams were drawn into the eight groups they will compete in for the 2019/20 season.
The groups are as follows:
Group A: KAC Klagenfurt (AUT), Tappara Tampere (FIN), EHC Biel-Bienne (SUI), Frisk Asker (NOR)
Group B: HPK Hämeenlinna (FIN), EV Zug (SUI), HC Pilsen (CZE), Rungsted Seier Capital (DEN)
Group C: Luleå Hockey (SWE), Bílí Tygři Liberec (CZE), Augsburger Panther (GER), Belfast Giants (UK)
Group D: Oceláři Třinec (CZE), Lausanne HC (SUI), Lahti Pelicans (FIN), Yunost Minsk (BLR)
Group E: SC Bern (SUI), Kärpät Oulu (FIN), Skellefteå AIK (SWE), Grenoble (FRA)
Group F: Adler Mannheim (GER), Djurgården Stockholm (SWE), Vienna Capitals (AUT), GKS Tychy (POL)
Group G: Färjestad Karlstad (SWE), Red Bull Munich (GER), HC Ambrì-Piotta (SUI), HC05 Banská Bystrica (SVK)
Group H: Frölunda Indians (SWE), Graz 99ers (AUT), Mountfield HK (CZE), Cardiff Devils (UK)
Ville Nieminen, head coach of the Lahti Pelicans, was on stage as part of the Draw along with recently retired Slovak biathlete Anastasia Kuzmina, CHL Chairman of the Board Peter Zahner, CHL CEO Martin Baumann and host Tessa Bonhomme, a former Canadian Olympic and World Champion turned broadcaster.
“We are thankful to participate in the CHL,” said Nieminen, who played in the inaugural 2014/15 CHL season as a member of Lukko Rauma. “I was telling my players that this is a chance to showcase themselves in front of other teams and leagues. Also, travelling is great for team bonding.”
After ending up in Group D along with Yunost Minsk, Lausanne HC and Oceláři Třinec, he said, “It will be a good group. We’re excited and proud to be a part of it.”
Group E promises to be a very difficult one, but German champions Adler Mannheim are excited to face the challenge of a group that includes Djurgården Stockholm, the Vienna Capitals and GKS Tychy.
“We’re very excited to get a team like Djurgarden, first of all,” said Mannheim Sport Director Jan-Axel Alvaara. “They’re a top team in Europe and it’ll tell us where we stand. As for Vienna, we don’t know them quite as well but they reached the finals of their league, so they must be a good team. We’re going to begin scouting. I must admit, I don’t know much about Polish hockey, but these teams always take this competition very seriously and you have to be ready to play them.”
Now that the Draw is finished, hockey fans across Europe can now look forward to the Group Stage itself, which begins on 29 August and finishes on 16 October. Each team plays a total of six games – one home and one away against the other three teams in its group. The first- and second-placed teams in each group then advance to the Playoff Stage.
With 16 teams in the playoffs, four rounds are required to determine the European club champions. The first three rounds are all two-game, home-and-away, total-goal series, similar to previous seasons. The playoffs start on 12 November and finish with the ultimate one-game Final on 4 February 2020.
Once the Group Stage schedule is known, it will be posted at ChampionsHockeyLeague.com.